What is belonging, how do you define it? How do you go about creating it within your community? For me, belonging is first found within the smaller groups of a church or any large organization. These smaller settings are a place where you can build relationships and get to know one another in a more intimate way, which then can branch out into the larger community.
Creating belonging takes some effort on both the side of the organization, and the person desiring to join the group. The organization needs to offer small groups which serve as safe places for new people to get a foothold and the person wanting to join needs to be willing to put themselves out there until they form a few early relationships. It is a two sided street and both must offer up something of themselves.
Some recent examples of ways I have found my way into new groups here in my new area are as follows:
1) At church I joined a Small Group Ministry group last fall which allowed me to meet a group of great women pretty quickly and those relationships offered comfort to me which then allowed me to move into other groups within the church, thus resulting in meeting even more people.
2) At my son's homeschool co-op, they started offering Open Campus days which allow the community to come together for a day once a month. Many different small groups are forming such as book and game clubs, allowing one to get to know others on a smaller scale.
3) I have met most of my neighbors here in my new neighborhood and one neighbor invited me to participate in a weekday morning gathering of dog owners. Her willingness to reach out and include me resulted in me feeling comfortable enough to join in with the larger group of 10-15 dog owners, building community around the shared interest of dogs.
In all of these examples, belonging on my part was found because I was willing to put myself out there and also the organizations I joined provided an easy way for me to get involved through small groups.
I love participating in these organizations and the sense of belonging that comes with it. To begin to find a group of people to share the journey with where we offer up care and support for one another in this often fragmented world.